Three easy foodie things


Oats, lentils and popcorn. Economical, versatile and healthy.ย I thought I would share 3 simple recipes (hardly recipes, more like throw into a pot) that use these 3 pantry staples that don’t require having to shop at speciality food stores. Oats, lentils and popcorn can be bought from bulk bins at supermarkets. Remember to take your own reusable bags.


Oats, sunflower seeds, raw nuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds bought from bulk bins at the supermarket using reusable bags. Tip: save the codes on a notepad on your phone.

Muesli is a great to make a lot of at once as it keeps a long time stored correctly. Oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits are all that you need to make a delicious muesli. Simply put the oats and nuts (roughly chop nuts) in a baking tray and cook in the oven on 180* stirring occasionally until toasted to your preference. Add dried fruit once cooled and store in jars.

Porridge is also a simple food to make using quick oats- just add boiling water and leave to cool. My toddler has porridge every morning, I add either a little stewed fruit or a teeny bit of honey.


Use an array of fresh veges in the dahl

Lentils are another staple at bulk bins and are very economical. Buy loose veges from the supermarket or from your local market using your own reusable bags. My toddler and eight year old will happily eat dahl and it’s even better the next day.

Soak one cup of lentils in water for at least 30 minutes. Fry spices in oil for a few minutes, stirring constantly on a medium heat. I use roughly a teaspoon of each: turmeric, cumin, coriander and yellow mustard seeds. Add 1 chopped onion and 2 cloves of garlic to spices and oil, cook these a few minutes then add veges (apart from leafy greens) that have been chopped up to roughly the same size. Cook these for about five minutes, add drained lentils, add water or vegetable stock, enough to cover veges a few inches above. Cook for around 40 minutes with the lid on the pot. Add chopped leafy greens such as spinach, kale or silverbeet. Cook for another 20 minutes. Season with salt before serving. I like a squeeze of lemon on mine or a splash of apple cider vinegar. Optional: serve with rice or flat bread.



Another staple at supermarket bulk bins is popcorn. We don’t buy chips as we avoid single use packaging so popcorn is a great alternative for snacking and the kids love it, and it’s so easy to make!

On a medium to high heat and depending on the size of your pan add enough oil to just cover the surface, add popcorn kernels, don’t crowd the pan, just enough to cover the surface to avoid un-popped kernels. Put lid on pot and every now and then give pan a swirl, continue to do this when kernels start popping. Once popping action has slowed down remove pan from heat and leave lid on until popping has stopped. For the kids I add a little salt and sometimes a little melted butter. Feeling adventurous? Google ‘flavoured popcorn recipes’ for some different flavours.


10 Waste Streams and Counting….

Waste Stream definition:

  1. The total flow of solid waste from homes, businesses, institutions, and manufacturing plants that is recycled, burned, or disposed of in landfills, or segments thereof such as the “residential waste stream” or the “recyclable waste stream”.

I was recently reading about a zerowaste town in Japan called Kamikatsu that has 34 waste streams and diverts 80% of waste from landfill. Their efforts are impressive and I particularly like the share, swap and close-knit community aspect of town. Here in New Zealand zero waste enterprises are popping up all over the country and last July I was lucky enough to visit Xtreme Zero Waste Raglan. Servicing the Raglan township by providing a waste kerbside collection and drop off service Xtreme Zero Waste diverts approximately 75% of the waste from landfill. Seeing the numerous waste streams and learning the value of waste and shared ethos throughout the township was exciting for a waste reduction enthusiast such as myself.

Here’s a video of the study tour I joined to Xtreme Zero Waste Raglan made by Auckland Council. Watch here.

Waste streams offered at these enterprises cater for all types of waste which made me think aboutย how many waste streams I have in my home. Here’s my list:

  1. bokashi compost – small scale kitchen waste
  2. kerbside recycling bin
  3. landfill bin
  4. soft plastic recycling
  5. compost heap – large scale organic matter, e.g. garden waste, toilet rolls, large kitchen organic waste (banana skins, cabbage leaves), rags, bamboo toothbrushes and scrubbing brushes
  6. foodย scraps fertiliser: tea leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells
  7. glass jar collection: used for homemade condiments, skin balms that I share, swap and occasionally sell
  8. flowers and herbs: dried to use in homemade skincare, craft and baking
  9. fabric: from old clothes and towels used for rags or upcycled for small sewing projects
  10. plastic bags from commercial soil/seed-raising mix: good to use to collect and swap seaweed/compost/mulch

These waste streams are valuable for numerous reasons and like Xtreme Zero Waste Raglan and the town of Kamikatsu help close the loop or circulate resources a few more times before ending in landfill.

I would be interested for people to share how many waste streams they have in their home to inspire me and others!



A Bin Full

A family effort. Photo credit: Rolf Siggard.

It’s come to the end of the year and although I have failed to keep to my new years resolution to post fortnightly on the blog, I have made a decent effort to curb my families’ waste. As a family of five (yes five, we added one final cherub to our clan recently) we have managed not to put out our 140 litreย bin for the whole year of 2015 until this week.

We tried our best at first to go zero waste however we had to compromise and balance cost and logistics so some products we forewent the zerowaste option for the next best option either reusable or recyclable. Non reusable or domestically recyclable packaging from items such as cheese and toilet paper as well as packaging bought into our home from friends and relatives was put aside throughout the year for soft plastic recycling at a local drop off.

The inside of our bin.

Surveying our waste the bulk consisted of:

  • broken toys
  • school shoes
  • pill packets
  • weed mat
  • damp remover devices
  • containers
  • broken glass/ceramics

Learning from experience this year we will make make sure to put aside some money for a decent pair of school shoes and continue to replace plastic homewares with second hand quality goods. Some of our waste was the result of decluttering the home so going into the new year with a relatively clean slate will hopefully help us reduce our waste further for 2016.

We avoid buying plastic toys however with gifts from friends and family it is hard to avoid without sounding like the plastic police. With Christmas recently our eight year old received from us presents that aligned with the ‘need, wear, read, want’ philosophy, two of which were second hand. Our children may not be able to grasp the bigger picture of waste however caring for the environment and putting waste in the correct bin will at least be normal behaviour.

Our waste reduction values are supported at our daughters ‘Wastewise’ school, pictured is a display she made in class.

Going into the new year we will continue our waste-less lifestyle. There are areas for improvement such as reducing our domestic recycling. Cans, tetra packs and berry punnets are typically in our recycling bin. Purchasing a pressure cooker to cook pulses, making our own oat/rice milk instead of buying it and perhaps living next to a strawberry farm (the kids love their berries this time of year) would be helpful!

I know mine and my families’ efforts are not going to save the world alone, governments hold the key to making significant change. I have learnt leading by example together with education is the best approach to waste reduction at a local level.

Here are my family’s top tips to reduce waste:

  • compost food scraps
  • avoid single use packaging
  • use reusable shopping bags
  • buy second hand
  • recycle correctly
  • buy from bulk bins using own bags/containers
  • take your own container to the butcher
  • grow your own fruit and vegetables
  • join a community garden
  • eat real food
  • cook at home
  • bake or make something you would usually buy
  • use vinegar and baking soda for cleaning
  • use cloth wipes and cloth nappies

I began this blog on a whim, not really knowing what I was doing, or having a proper understanding of what I thought I was doing. Looking through my posts I can see my understanding of sustainability grow alongside a passion for creating, making and growing things by hand. I have been lucky to have been supported during this time by the Auckland Waste Minimisation network of amazing people who have given me some great opportunities over the past year. A big thank you to my waste colleagues who I have “worked” with over the past year, thanks for making my journey so enjoyable and rewarding.

Happy New Year! xo